A college education contributes to cognitive development, personal growth and quality of life.
If the secret to success at a post-secondary level could be summed up in one sentence, it could be: Get involved and apply yourself. That’s the conclusion from a number of different studies looking at the cumulative effects of attending college. Although individuals can succeed without higher learning, a college education does contribute to competence and cognitive development, personal growth and identity, and quality of life. This is only the case, though, if you immerse yourself in your studies and get involved as much as possible in the college experience.
Consider three key benefits of applying yourself while attending college:
1) Cognitive Skills
Data from one study claims that “students make statistically significant gains during the college years on a number of dimensions of general cognitive capabilities and skills.” These gains include the areas of oral and written communication, critical thinking, and abstract reasoning.
The entire structure of college fosters a learning environment, so it’s no surprise that when you invest time and effort, you’ll become competent in your subject.
In general, college graduates end up with a more substantial factual knowledge base than high school graduates, and are more likely to continue adding to their knowledge base in the future because of developing the habit of learning.
Character development and moral growth are both benefits of attending college. Studies show increases among college students in the ability to use principled reasoning to judge moral issues, usually due to the amount of student peer interaction.
Attitudes and values are also affected through the college experience, with students showing a tendency towards open-mindedness and a willingness to adopt new and different ideas. Tolerance for other people and their views is usually a by-product of immersing yourself in college life.
As well, self-esteem, social self-confidence and leadership abilities tend to increase as students interact with faculty and peers.
3) Quality of Life
Although the effects on quality of life from attending college are usually indirect, evidence suggests that economic benefits usually result. According to one study, earning a bachelor’s degree “provides somewhere between a 20 and 40 percent advantage in earnings over a high school diploma” with an estimated financial return “somewhere between 9.3 and 10.9 percent.” Higher earnings and more equal treatment can result for women and minority groups when they have a degree.
Because of recognized accreditation from an institution, advantages are clearly seen in the types of jobs graduates obtain. A college education often leads to better-positioned or more satisfactory employment, especially when it comes to women choosing a career in male-dominated fields.
Factors such as interaction with faculty, peer group involvement, and time devoted to learning are all directly related to a student’s advancement in these three areas. The decisions of what you study and where you study are not the sole deciding factors determining your success at college. Just as important is what you do as a student during your college enrollment.
In short, the greater your involvement, the greater your gain.